Liberian war crimes trial delayed again

The former Liberian president Charles Taylor and his lawyer, who boycotted the West African ruler's war crimes trial for a third day yesterday, have been granted the right to appeal over key documentation.

Mr Taylor has denied 11 charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.

A final ruling by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague is expected later this year in a case that is being followed closely in West Africa. A US diplomat has warned that if Mr Taylor, the first African leader to stand trial for war crimes, is acquitted, his return to Liberia could "tip the balance in a fragile peace".